Title: Exordium of Tears
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Genre: Science Fiction
Fight or die.
A brutal tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Rifles; and the Special Forces anti-terrorist team – were forced to endure while the Horde menace existed.
Now that threat is over, the survivors long to settle down and reclaim the lives stolen from them. However, such aspirations remain beyond their reach, for shadows loom on the horizon that not only threatens the future of Arden, but the universe too, revealing once again that…
Death is only the beginning of the adventure.
Parked in geostationary orbit above a lifeless world, the vessel was a testimony to cultural and technological innovation. Sleek, vast, and impossibly lethal, she hung like the Titan she was; a leviathan sleeping amid a sea of infinite possibilities. Myriad stars bore witness to her majesty, and although each one glittered fiercely, none could lift the invasive chill leaching like death through the very constitution of her bones.
Within, a petrified forest of metal, fabric, and thermoplastic polymers slumbered.
Here, a coffee cup perched precariously on the edge of a counter, its flash-frozen contents discarded and forgotten long, long ago. There, a simple paper notebook hung suspended in the void above a set of stairs, as if waiting for the moment gravity would reclaim it and send it on its way toward the deck below. Between them, an ornate pen spiraled lazily by. Captive to inertia, it was doomed to bounce endlessly back and forth between the bulkheads until an outside force intervened to stop its lonely, acrobatic sojourn. An all pervading hush dominated, enveloping the interior in a resonance that was absolute. As it had for hundreds of years now, time dragged inexorably by . . .
A sophisticated-looking device situated close to the main communications array suddenly illuminated, and a series of complex glyphs fluttered silently across the gap in the air above it. Soon the space was filled with blazing icons that curled around each other in a never-ending Möbius loop. The phantom cursor came to rest in the bottom right-hand corner, blinking rapidly, awaiting further instructions.
Adjoining speakers squawked to life. A burst of static followed, signaling the receipt of a compressed data package. Then everything went blank, the process halted as abruptly as it had begun.
Silence reigned once more.
A larger console activated, and a cluster of master codes appeared within the display. As each cipher scrolled down the screen, it triggered redundant systems that had lain dormant for an age.
Lights winked on, and a background hum lifted above the electronic chatter. A subtle vibration ran the length of the craft. Floating objects crashed to the floor and lay still. Empty halls and corridors thrummed with growing potential. Interior illumination dulled to a soft background radiance.
A hissing sound issued from the vents as pressure seals primed and engaged. Oxygen circulated once more.
A lotus petal graphic flowered within the main holo-emitter. As it folded outward, it was replaced by an overlapping series of ship’s schematics that quickly expanded off screen. One by one, oscillating star charts cascaded by. Soon, the control center was a glittering wash of emerald green, scarlet, and royal blue phosphorescence.
“Arden home world located,” a female voice intoned, “security codes authenticated.”
“Caution! Time sensitive parameters breached.”
It sounded as if the entity was arguing with herself.
“Scanning for updates . . .”
“No fresh data available. Security protocol Coralin alpha-one, initiated. Homing beacon, activated. Full systems check. Accessing . . .”
“Internal sensors, online. Life signs, absent. Monitoring . . .”
“Emergency pods, present and intact. Anomalous energy signature detected. Isolation protocol instituted. Self destruct sequence prepped . . . Stand by.”
“Listing primary networks showing as fully functional. Life support, gravity core, weapons grid, deflectors, shields . . .”
“Propulsion diagnostics now complete. Maneuvering thrusters, sublight engines, and rip-space drive standing by . . .”
“Security protocol Coralin alpha-one confirmed. Cold systems start in . . . Three, two, one. Primary burn commencing . . .”
At the rear of the behemoth nearly two miles away, a series of ruddy glows ignited deep within the bowels of the injector outlets. Power levels intensified. As they did so, the shimmering maelstrom divided to fill four huge nacelles.
With infinite grace, the huge cruiser moved out from the planet’s shadow cone. As she broached the solar penumbra, the sparkling iridescence of her matte black exterior flared, and an ancient coating of rime blasted away into space, adding a shower of miniature diamonds to the gauze of eternal midnight.
Her speed increased, and a final signal was sent.
Within minutes the vessel was gone, and the only signs of her existence were the gravitational eddies that would resonate out into the void forever.
Ten hours and fifty light years in the opposite direction later, the onward transmission reached its mark. A dormant entity sparked to life, and once again a prolonged and complicated series of ship’s systems came online.
Although similar in appearance, this craft was even larger than her sister, and had clearly been designed for one thing. Death.
Vector control skirts as wide as a sports stadium flared in response to the cataclysmic energies now thundering toward the main booster nozzles.
The colossus punched forward. As it did so, the panels adorning its exterior surface shimmered, and the destroyer faded from sight.
Now invisible, it adjusted trajectory and set a course for home, four hundred and twenty trillion miles distant.
Share a holiday family tradition:
One particular tradition that always stuck with me was the concept of the “Christmas Tree Present.” My in-laws had the custom of gathering together late on Christmas Eve night and selecting a special gift from the bottom of the tree. Just one, and it would be something chosen by another member of the family that was supposed to reflect you and/or your personality. The gift didn’t have to be expensive, but it did need to be personal. It was a really quirky but quaint tradition that I grew to appreciate, as it helped the family think more deeply about each other at a time when some prefer to give in to exuberance of excess.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Because it’s a story about starting over. “Out with the old and in with the new.” We’ve all heard that saying bandied about as Christmas ends and the New Year approaches. And that sums up what Exordium of Tears is about. A tale about facing the challenges of new beginnings and doing all you can for those you care about. As you’ll see, it’ll capture your heart as much as your imagination.
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Runs December 1 – 31.
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.
Andrew P. Weston is an international bestselling author from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.